Home again

Thanks again everyone for all your comments and your texts and e-mails. Your kindness and concern have helped me more than you will ever know. I got home from the hospital this morning. It was supposed to be a day procedure on Wednesday, but low blood pressure, heavy bleeding and dehydration meant I was kept in until now. 

I know we always think what we have just been through has been the worst or the hardest experience, but of all the 3 miscarriages in the past 12 months this has been the most bruising experience, due to what I have been through at the hospital. Stop reading now if you don’t want to witness a rant against the HSE. I need to vent and it is not going to be pretty.

I have been through the Irish hospital system more times than I would ever have wished for over the past six years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Last year’s miscarriage at this same hospital was a horrendous experience, taking place over the scorching May bank holiday weekend with limited staff available and no sonographers on duty. I thought I had experienced pretty much the worst of the system, but the last two days have been a revelation to me. I have read all the letters to the newspapers, heard the complaints in the media about the system and now I’ve found myself on the receiving end of it, I am feeling shocked and traumatised in a way that I didn’t expect when I set off for the D&C on Wednesday morning. I think part of my shock is that I always was part of the public health system – I didn’t have private health insurance and so I always thought private and public patients were treated differently.  I of course believe this to be a disgraceful situation and think we are all entitled to the same level of care and treatment regardless of socio-economics. Two years ago, after we got married, my husband put me on his insurance, primarily because we knew our fertility path was not going to be a straight forward one and he wanted to make it as painless for me as he could. I was so grateful on Wednesday that I would be able to get a private room and go through this experience as painlessly as possible under the circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I am being some kind of pampered princess about this, but for the first time in my life I thought that the oh so expensive health insurance we have paid into was about to make life a little easier for us. I don’t believe that I am any more entitled to this than anyone else – quite the opposite. I believe that we should all have the same access to treatment and there should be no discrimination and as a point of principle I always championed the public system, but the reality of the health care system in this country is that you have to pay if you want any say in your treatment – at least that is what I thought up until this week.

Still want to keep reading?

We arrived at 9 as we were instructed and I went to admissions. My details were taken and I was told to go wait in the reception area and my name would be called. One hour passed, two and then three hours and still I wasn’t called. I went in several times to admissions and was told I would be called shortly. In the meantime, I sat, getting more and more agitated as I watched a parade of pregnant bumps, big bunches of flowers, pink and blue balloons coming in and out of the main door in front of me. It was like torture, but nothing compared to the heartrending pain of watching the proud parents carrying their newborns out the door and tenderly placing them into waiting cars and taxis. By the time, my name was called at 12.30, I was distraught and the registrar who came to see me in admissions was the most insensitive, the rudest and most uncaring doctor I have ever come across in all my time attending hospitals. The consultant was in another hospital that morning – so much for a private consultant. I appreciate that the system is a tough one for registrars but this is not the patient’s fault and not the time or place to take it out on them. She was angry and frustrated with me because I was shaking and sobbing so much she said I was making it difficult for her to take the bloods she needed to take. Now blood tests are traumatic enough for me at the best of times. My veins are pretty much non existent after chemotherapy and they can only be taken on one arm. This means I have to endure a round of hopeless and extremely painful poking around by doctors looking for a vein. I explained this to her and asked to be seen by a phlebotomist who are better at finding a vein, but her answer was if I stopped shaking and crying so much and calmed down it would make her job easier. She jabbed away with no success – called in another registrar to try, actually shouted at that regsistrar and sent her away. I was getting more and more upset and she sent me back out into reception in a state of shock, I was shaking so much, my teeth were chattering.  My husband, who is not an agressive man by any means, had enough at this stage – marched into admissions and asked to speak to the registrar. There followed a dreadful scene with me trying to calm him down, and praying that security wouldn’t be called.  I’ve never seen my husband act this way and I know it was down to his upset and anger at being made to wait so long with no explanation as to why we had to wait and the attitude of the registrar. He also asked her if we could have a second scan and she looked blankly at us and said but you already know the result of your scan. The previous day after the scan, we had been told we could have another one today if we wanted to. We were told it was now standard procedure which had been put in place  following the misdiagnosis scandal which emerged earlier this year, when it was revealed that many Irish women were told that their babies had died in their wombs and they would miscarry.  These women went home to miscarry naturally only to find out a few weeks later that their babies were still alive after all. We were so shocked to read and listen to the stories of these women at the time and so we  felt we were justified in asking for a second scan before the procedure. The consultant had agreed this would be done the next day but now the registrar was saying there was nothing in my notes about this. DH said ring the consultant and ask him and she sighed and said ” fine, if that’s what you want”, like we were really inconveniencing her. And we were inconveniencing her so much, that she thrust my chart into my hands and said well you know where the scan room is and turned her back on us and walked away. This was like a red rag to a bull, and I had to beg my husband to not go after her for round two. We made our way back to the sonographer, explained the situation and she said she would scan us again. I prayed for a miracle, that there would be a heart beat, but  of course there was nothing there – my baby had died and there was nothing to be done anymore except get this day over with.

Back up to admissions, and I had to find a nurse and ask her what was going to happen now, because obviously we had been left to fend for ourselves at this stage, after my husband’s performance. The nurse went off to find the registrar, who wouldn’t speak to us and  so the nurse sent us back out to the reception area yet again. Another half hour of not knowing what was happening, more bumps, more balloons, more babies.  DH went back into admissions to find out what was happening and the nurse said she was taking me up to the ward. This was now 1.30 – I was weak from fasting, I was still shaking and I was feeling very weak and afraid at this stage, and I didn’t know what was going to happen next. This nurse then said that she was afraid the private room was no longer available because I was so late getting up to the ward, they had given it away. None of this was our fault and I thought this was the last straw. We had been made to wait all morning because our consultant whom we had spoken to and booked the previous day was not available. We had to wait with everyone else for a registrar who I appreciate was overworked and frustrated, but again this wasn’t our fault. I don’t understand why I couldn’t have been admitted to the ward first thing and waited there instead of in the reception area while nothing happend for a full morning.  As a public patient in Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, having had a previous D&C done there, the standard procedure is you are admitted through the ward and I can’t see how having booked this procedure previously and the room and the consultant, this system could not be put in place.  I thought DH was going to go off on a rant again, but looking at me, he realised it was best not to. She deposited us in the corridor of the ward and my husband went off to find a nurse. He came back and gently said I’ve sorted it – you are getting the private room. I don’t want to be paranoid here, but he was of the belief that that my not getting the private room was a punishment for him standing up to the registrar. I would like to believe that isn’t true, but then mysteriously the room was available after all.

We were shown to the room, and never having had the luxury of a private room before, I had different expectations of what I was being led to. Now I am grateful that I got the room, don’t get me wrong, but this room which costs over a grand a night was as grim as a prison cell, with peeling paint, a TV which we couldn’t switch on with a remote control held together with celloptape. TV turned out to be broken – not that it matters, because I didn’t want to watch TV, but it was a disgrace of a room.  Where is all our money going in the hospitals? Certainly not to the patient experience. Having said all that,  I am still so grateful that I had a room to myself, one that I very nearly didn’t have.

Next trauma was the bloods still needed to be taken. I was very dehydrated at this stage and my veins had completely collapsed as a result.  The phlebotomist came and she tried three times to get a vein – the standard procedure is they can try three times. The veins defeated her and after 20 minutes of trying, she gave up. Next the anesthetist was called – he had no luck either,and spent another 20 minutes poking and prodding,  until he used a local anesthetic to freeze my arm and then cut in under the skin to find a vein. The relief when he managed it was just incredible, although it turned out later that he mislabeled the full blood count bottle and so we never got that done – incompetence rides again.

Coming to the end now for those of you who have stuck with me..thank you!

I can speed through the rest. It was 2.30 by now and I told my husband to go get himself something to eat, as they weren’t going to operate until 6 or 7 that evening. He was gone about 10 minutes when the nurse came and said you are going to theatre now  – a slot has opened up. No time to think or even call my husband – I was walked to the theatre through the labour ward past the women about to give birth – a slow painful, heartbreaking walk to the operating theatre at the end of the labour ward.

Woke up from the D&C in the recovery room and the first thought in my head was it’s gone – my baby is gone and I felt a wave of grief and despair wash over me.

Back to ward, my lovely husband waiting for me, and I was told I could go home in a few hours. I just wanted to get home to my own bed and put the trauma of this day behind me. But it wasn’t over yet. My blood pressure was very low, my bleeding heavy and I was severely dehydrated. They decided to keep me in. I sent poor tired husband home around 9 pm and I spent a fitful night hooked up to the drip and relieving the day. Next day, same thing, no change in BP or dehydration levels, despite 6 bags of IV fluid and kept in for another day.

Finally get to leave hospital this morning, emotionally and physically battered and bruised by my experience. And now the hard work begins – going through the grief and the pain, the emptiness and the loneliness of pregnancy loss. I’ve been here before and I’ve survived, but each time it happens, it takes longer to haul myself back out again of the pit of despair and emptiness. I have a long road ahead of me again and I am thinking of all of the women out there who also have to walk this path. It is a hard road to walk, made harder by how much of it we have to keep hidden from the outside world. Thank goodness for this blog, for being able to write about this experience, to be able to listen to the stories of others, to know that I am understood and listened to in a way that others who haven’t gone through this can never do. Please continue to walk this journey with me, and I will walk with you. Our miracle still waits for us. We have to continue to believe and hold onto our dream. And yes, I will definitely need reminding of that myself in the coming days and weeks.

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21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jane
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 14:38:20

    God Marie, I am speechless after reading that. You poor love, that’s just horrendous. I’m presuming this happened my end of the country and not Dublin? If so, I have had two D&C’s in the same hospital, and while it was a fairly crappy experience, it was nothing as bad as this. It’s shocking that they left you sitting in reception for so long. When I was treated there, both times they took us down for a second scan as soon as we arrived, and then they admitted me straight away, as they should have done with you. As for the registrar, how bloody ignorant was she? No wonder poor Billy lost it with her. Really and truly, you would think after all the stuff that had been in the news about miscarriage misdiagnosis that they could have shown you some little bit of sensitivity. I am so angry on your behalf.

    It might be worth your while making an appointment with the bereavement counsellor in there. I have been to her and she’s a really nice lady. The next few weeks will be tough going. I always find that the grief takes a couple of weeks to really kick in, I think the hormones still sloshing around your system can take a while to level off, and when they do, that’s when it will all really hit you. Be gentle with yourselves. And please please if you need the company of someone who has been there, don’t hesitate to give me a shout and I will call out to see you. Take care pet xx

    Reply

  2. Gill
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 15:54:06

    Glad to hear you are home again. Take time to rest and recover now and know that you are not alone – you have a world of friends out there who really care about what you are going through xxx

    Reply

  3. Adele Murray
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 15:55:29

    Oh Marie, I have just caught up with your blog here after not reading it for a few months. I feel I have gone from elation to despair with you and I just can’t believe the unfairness of this outcome. Yes, I know life isn’t meant to be fair, but honestly this is just too cruel. Take care pet x

    Reply

  4. Deirdre Burke
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 15:55:54

    Thinking of you xxx

    Reply

  5. Evelyn
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 15:57:47

    You are right to angry at this treatment. It is barbaric to keep you waiting all morning in the main reception area of a busy maternity hospital. I think I know the one you attended and I have my own issues with them! I am so sorry for you that this was your experience- the miscarriage was hard enough to have to deal with without the added trauma of your patient experience.

    Reply

  6. Marisa
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 15:59:06

    Your treatment at this hospital is unacceptable. I too understand the pressure that our hospitals are under – the nurses and doctors are overworked but still this was not right! Have you complained officially? I suppose it won’t do any good but it might make you feel a bit better?

    Reply

  7. Doyler
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 16:01:05

    Well done on your husband for standing up for you! I went through a similar experience with my wife and I would have done just the same thing. It is disgraceful and he was absolutely right to confront her. Maybe she will think twice about her manner next time she is confronted with a patient as obviously distressed as you were.

    Reply

  8. Shauna
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 16:02:10

    I agree with the above comment. Your husband was within his rights to stand up for you, although I can also understand that it distressed you to be in the midst of this confrontation. The whole situation should never have gotten to this stage.

    Reply

  9. Fiona Byrne
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 16:03:37

    That registrar behaved disgracefully and unprofessionally. She could see you were in a distressed state and if you were shaking and sobbing she should have dealt with the situation in a completely different manner – I don’t care how busy or overworked she was!

    Reply

  10. Denis
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 16:50:44

    Marie,

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss.

    May the blessings of love be upon you, may its peace abide with you, may its essence illuminate your heart, now and forever more…. And your husband also.

    Denis

    Reply

  11. amanda casali
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 19:25:14

    Again, my heart goes out to you, it’s just so bloody unfair, if there was anything I could do for you, however difficult, I would….I am thinking of you and praying that you get your miracle, nobody, but nobody, deserves it more than you and Billy…………….xx…..

    Reply

  12. Lorna
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 19:31:36

    OMG! I agree with you re some private rooms being like prison cells (there are 2 in Portlaoise Hosp like that too) but I can’t believe how the registrar behaved. Well done to Billy for standing up to her and getting you the private room.
    Glad to see you ending on a positive note my dear. I have to admit that getting your texts and reading your posts has brought it all back to me too and I wonder an I risk going thru it all again but glad to see you ending positively – hope and a miracle are waiting 🙂
    Talk about making a horrible situation so much more traumatic, I still can’t believe behaviour of registrar!
    Hope you are both abel to havce a relaxing weekend, Lorna x

    Reply

  13. mamma bella
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 19:53:49

    Marie, I wish I could say I’m shocked but I can’t, that hospital is a disgrace. I learnt a lot from my birth experience on dd so was completely prepared for both my d&c’s, I went there alone! They make you wait in reception when u have a partner with you but you can stay in admissions when alone, I didn’t give them a minutes peace and demanded attention, they prob thought I was the biggest bitch but I didn’t care, I learnt my lesson in 2006! I went private so I could have control and make sure I had my consultant each time cos you get lost in there otherwise! There was no chance of me going natural as I wouldn’t trust them if I had to go in without my consultant there!

    I think I know the lady you are talking about too, I had a lovely experience with her when I had dd! I spent 2 lovely weeks in there in 2006 and could probably write a book! I swore I would send a letter of complaint but never did, do it if you can Marie!

    Marie I’m so sorry you went through all this on top of everything else, it’s a disgrace there is no early pregnancy unit there and the standard of that hospital is degrading and upsetting for the women that have to go there! Your post is open and honest and a true picture of the state of that hospital so don’t apologise, you need to blog about it to help you recover!

    There is nothing I can say to help but just to let you know you are not alone and I’ll be thinking of youxx

    Lxx

    Reply

  14. Lily
    Aug 14, 2010 @ 21:15:26

    Just read your post Marie … my heart goes out to you. Just take it one day at a time. Love to you and Billy.

    Lily

    Reply

  15. debbie
    Aug 15, 2010 @ 00:45:28

    Oh my dear Marie, I can’t believe you had to go through this horrible experience. I am so very sorry, no one should ever have to go through anything like that. I am so glad you have come through the other side and you and Billy are home together and can begin to heal together.
    I am holding you in my heart.
    All my love, Debbie

    Reply

  16. Henrike
    Aug 16, 2010 @ 10:48:57

    Speechless doesn’t even begin to explain what I’m feeling right now! I cannot believe they made you go all through this. Doctor’s and/or any other medical staff should be supportive and, at the very least, empathetic towards their patients/clients at all times (even when they’re stressed out and frustrated with the system). What a mess! I was starting to cheer on your husband (good for him to stand up for you) while reading. Still shocked- hope you’ll be able to get past those experiences and start healing!

    Thinking of you both! Hugs, Henrike.

    Reply

  17. Brenda Ray Coffee
    Aug 16, 2010 @ 18:35:04

    My Dear Marie,
    I’ve been traveling and just found your post. Wish I were there to scoop you up and hug and love you, but I send it from afar. I can’t imagine the pain and anguish you’re feeling, made all the worse by lack of even a shred of compassionate care.

    Please hold onto your faith in God. There is a God. He has given us Grace, and His holy spirit indwells in us. I know that as surely as I write this. He doesn’t promise to answer our prayers, just to hear them. People frequently say trying times like you’ve been through in the last year are God’s way of shaping our rough edges and testing our faith. While tragedies do test our faith, I don’t think God micromanages each life. He didn’t let you lose three precious babies in order to strengthen you. He does take notice of your continued belief in, and love of Him, and He wants a relationship with you.

    All who know and love you are grieving for you. I pray for strength, understanding, wisdom and acceptance. James 4:8 says, “Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.”

    Love,
    Brenda

    Reply

  18. steph
    Aug 17, 2010 @ 23:11:22

    I’m so sorry, Marie

    My heart goes out to you and your husband.

    I, too, have been away for a few days and I’m deeply saddened to read of what you’ve been going through this past week. It seems so unfair that all your hopes and dreams have been so cruelly dashed again.

    Your hospital experience sounds truly horrendous and sadly, it’s a highly accurate reflection of the state our health service is in today. You may not be good with needles, Marie but you excel with words and your strength and resilience simply shine through.

    Please know that I will continue to walk this journey with you for as long as it takes for your miracle to happen.

    I want to wrap you up and surround you with love and hope for brighter times ahead.

    (((huge hugs)))

    Reply

  19. iamstacey
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 17:56:53

    omg, Marie, I just can’t believe all of this. It’s just too awful. I’m so sorry. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an health care experience more devoid of compassion. My heart is just broken for you and your hubby and all you went through.

    Reply

  20. Trackback: 2010 in review « Diary of a Miracle

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